I started something here on News Break with a list of some of my favorite hamburgers and burger joints in Austin, TX. I only mentioned one drive-through, P. Terry's, because I don't frequent national chains or drive-throughs, and P. Terry's is locally owned and uses organic ingredients. In response, readers added their favorite Austin, Tx drive-through hamburger joint suggestions. Since they match my criteria of being both Austin developed and owned, and they are "Keeping Austin Weird," I decided to do an article on Austin's favorite drive-through hamburger joints. Here goes:
Two readers recommended Short Stop, so I tried it today. It has two of my criteria, in that it is an Austin home grown business, and it's funky. It's also old school. They don't have a website. The tiny buildings, of which there are eleven throughout Austin, are reminiscent of hot dog stands, and in fact, they serve both hot dogs and hamburgers. Some of the signage is hand written on paper peeling from Texas extremes of weather. The burgers are like the ones I grew up on, except the buns aren't buttered and grilled. I really miss those buns. Otherwise, they are sloppy, seasoned just right, and bear the taste of the grill. All the homey aspects that are missing in large chain burgers.
Dan's Hamburgers is also an Austin born drive-through hamburger joint. They serve certified Angus beef patties on their old-fashioned style hamburgers. Katie Congdon, the current owner, is the daughter of the original married couple team, Dan and Fran Junk, now divorced, who started Dan's and Fran's Hamburgers in 1973. Several locations evolved over the years, including on Airport Boulevard, North Lamar Boulevard and in Buda, TX. Their hamburgers are similar to Short Stop's, but are larger in diameter.
Sandy's is an icon in Austin. It looks exactly like a drive-in hamburger place from the 1940's and 1950's, because that's what it is. Sandy's opened in 1946 in Austin, and is still at the original location across from Auditorium Shores, which hosts big name musicians, live theater, and craft fairs. Sandy's fits the spirit of Austin, with an exterior and signage dating from the 1940's. It pre-dated chain hamburger places with the same name, and either was never challenged by, or won, copyright challenges. It's difficult to find that information, but it's not difficult to find Sandy's. Head south on 1st Street from downtown, then southwest on Barton Springs road, look across from Auditorium Shores, and turn in where you see lines of people at the order window and cars in the drive-through. There will always be lines. They're also famous for their frozen custard, milkshakes and malts. Have you tried looking for malts lately? I have, and Sandy's is the only place in Austin I've found that make them.
None of these three down home drive-throughs boast Wagyu, Kobe beef. They aren't in general organic, like P.Terry's. But if you want to remember your childhood burgers, and you grew up before all the major chains took over, these three are the hamburger places to go in Austin, TX.